PhD Month Five: The One When I Started My Research Proposal

I’m tucked up in bed at 4:45 pm listening to the wind whip sheets of rain against the window. Somehow, we still have power, but maybe not for long. We’re in the middle of a “Category 4 atmospheric river event”, which apparently translates to 200 mm of rainfall and a 2 m rise in river height. It also put an end to our fieldwork plans for the afternoon. So, here I am cup of tea in hand, writing my fifth monthly PhD blog. January dragged as they tend to do, but I feel like I’ve made some significant PhD progress.

  1. Managed to return to the field after being stranded in Vancouver for a few days. My return was met by fresh wolf tracks throughout PacRim and plenty of sightings on the camera traps.

  2. Had my first western riding lesson ON A HORSE! It was actually very different from what I expected, and I was taken to the beginning of a new equestrian journey.

  3. Started the outline of my research proposal.

  4. Had an incredible holiday in Patagonia with James and his family.

  5. Applied for yet more scholarships.

  6. Picked up some freelance writing again for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

  7. Started an online course in landscape genetics. This will teach me about how the genetic structure of populations is influenced by the landscape, and it will hopefully help me understand some of my research questions a bit better.

  8. Went skiing on my own to gain some confidence on the bunny slope. I was treated to first tracks and in the afternoon I braved a couple of shallow green runs.

  9. Applied for my first conference as a PhD student (British Columbia Chapter of The Wildlife Society Annual Conference), which will involve a road trip to Prince George in northern BC.

  10. Had dinner with some friends and their new black Labrador puppy.

I did also have my first PhD-related meltdown this month, which is probably not the kind of achievement to put on the above list, but getting to the end of month five before a meltdown is definitely an achievement in itself. I have since resolved the issues and am well on my way again.


I pretty much haven’t done any of the things that were outstanding in December, so I’m just going to list them again as a reminder to myself that I need to do them at some point.

  1. Have my eyes tested – I will book this for when I get back in Kelowna.

  2. Climb very much – There is no climbing option when I am based in Ucluelet, but I have been doing yoga and going to the gym.

  3. Go to the dentist.

  4. Learn to ski – This is a work in progress.

  5. Download all the spatial variables that I need – I’m now only short of one, which I hope to get in the next couple of weeks from the geomatics guy (man in charge of the maps) in PacRim.

Maybe when I graduate I'll get a van and head South (© James Fleming).

Hopefully February will be drier!

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Photo Disclaimer: All photographs are property of Sophie May Watts or James Fleming unless otherwise stated.

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